Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Richardson: There's life in this pitch... and in Caps

New Zealand need a spinner like Tarun Nethula.
Photo / Paul Estcourt
New Zealand need a spinner like Tarun Nethula. Photo / Paul Estcourt

What a different team the Black Caps look when around 300 is a good score.

Couple that with the dynamic look the bowling attack has when the four specialist seamers are in operation and, after day two of this test match, our cricket team all of sudden looks like a team capable of placing the opposition under pressure.

It's reminiscent of that great test match win against Australia in Hobart.

This pitch has offered life for the seamers and the ball has moved in the air. These are conditions that your average New Zealand seamer revels in - and not only that, our batsmen become the equal of the opposition's.

The ball flying past the outside edge generally doesn't freak a New Zealand batsman out. That said, I do wish many of them would stop trying to defend outside the line of off stump.

Once again the crucial third day will have been played out as you read this and, due to deadlines, I can only predict what might happen.

I hope the track does not lose its life or the ball stops swinging for the seamers and the pitch dries up and turns. If it does, then that 50-run lead in the first innings may not be enough.

The four seamer option is fine when conditions suit for all of the game. When those conditions are prevalent, then I back the Black Caps to be competitive with any team in the world. However, those conditions are not the norm and setting the team up around that mode will only see the Black Caps remain near the bottom of the rankings ladder indefinitely.

If they can push on and win this test I will be thrilled and will give them plenty of respect - because it has not been a happy tour and to finish on that high will be a very good achievement.

However, this series has shown up the horrid lack of an attacking spin bowler in New Zealand. This could further be exposed in India. Maybe in India, Tarun Nethula will shine but he, by the sounds of it, has plenty of improving to do. I say good luck to any leg spinner blooded in India. Even the great Shane Warne got carted on his first tour of India.

Raw pace and turn. Those are the two ingredients to sustain dominance in test cricket. Those two ingredients have to be fostered in New Zealand domestic cricket. Oh and you need to be able to make scores in excess of 400 regularly.

I still scratch my head over just why this batting team fail so often because the ability is there; it is just not realised often enough. Maybe they are in denial over how poor some techniques are and just how much basic work is required to gain much needed consistency.

- Herald on Sunday

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Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Hunter Richardson represented New Zealand in 38 Tests from 2000-2004 racking up an impressive 2,776 runs with an average of 44.7. The former Black Cap began his cricketing career as a left-arm spinner but soon realised that his talents lay with the bat. The transition from ball to bat was seamless and Richardson soon made his international debut against Zimbabwe at the age of 29. Known as a stalwart opener, Richardson’s intelligent style of hard-grind batting came at the perfect time for New Zealand cricket and provided much-needed stability for the Black Caps. Apart from being an excellent opening batsman, Mark Richardson was well-known among fans and team mates for his humorous off-pitch antics and friendly interactions with the famous Beige Brigade, with whom he formed a strong relationship. An excellent cricketer with a personable quality, Richardson once remarked that his retiring first-class average was only different to that of Sir Donald Bradman by a decimal point. Mark Richardson retired from all forms of the game in 2004 and continues to write an insightful, thought-provoking column for the New Zealand Herald.

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